I Haven’t Drunk Coke in 6 Months and Counting – Thanks to Football!

I published this article originally via Huffington Post (the link to my article there is at the bottom), but I realised I have been behind in publishing them here too, so here goes…

"the great gordino"
Now, you might think that the protection of my teeth would be a good reason to stop drinking drinks like Coke, but since the state of my teeth mean they’re probably a lost cause anyway, let me tell you why football is the actual reason…

Well, not football itself, but the worldwide governing body of the game, FIFA.

When the host of the 2018 World Cup was announced as Russia, it caused a stir, but what caused even more of a stir was the unusual decision to announce the host of the 2022 tournament at the same time. When that host was announced as Qatar, a small country with no football heritage and summer temperatures that would make a football tournament ridiculous, red flags of suspicion were immediately raised.

England, who have unbelievably not hosted the tournament for nearly 50 years, put in a good bid, which most neutral observers felt would have been a logical choice, and since the British media has long campaigned about corruption within FIFA, with fingers pointed at President Sepp Blatter, that campaign went up a notch after the 2018/22 announcements.

Blatter initially blamed sour grapes from England, but after pressure he grudgingly ordered an inquiry, but then refused to publish the report. Instead, the self-run FIFA ethics committee published a summary which the man who produced the report, Michael Garcia, said was so inaccurate and unreflective of what he found, he resigned.

Classic FIFA, and classic Sepp Blatter. He’s been carrying on like that for years, propped up by some of the smaller nations in world football, who have benefited from his generosity.

When I say *his* generosity, I mean FIFA’s, and even that’s guesswork, because trying to get a clear picture concerning FIFA’s finances, in or out, is like herding cats.

In 2014, when the furore around the Garcia report was at its’ height, I remember reading an article saying the only way things would change would be for fans to lean on the main sponsors.

If that worked, they might withdraw, and since it’s their money that drives the whole circus, it might all collapse around Blatter like a house of cards.

So, I wrote to Coke, telling them that despite buying it for decades, I would not buy any more, and that until the report was published in full, or Blatter stepped down as President, their sponsorship was sending my money directly to their competitor Pepsi.

I got the standard reply they were using at the time, which was this:

“Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the World Cup is a concern to us.

The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”

Hmm. The glaring problem there is that transparent and efficient resolving of issues by FIFA, or lack thereof, is precisely the problem!

2 days before the 2015 FIFA Presidential election, dawn raids from the FBI and Swiss prosecutors saw 14 men arrested, concerning corruption, bribes, and who knows what else. Another big scandal for FIFA, probably their biggest (which is saying something), involving staggering amounts of money.

Blatter has not been arrested, it must be said and, guess what, was re-elected to serve a 5th term, despite FIFA’s reputation being at rock bottom.

Exasperation at his refusal to acknowledge he has any part in any of it, let alone resigning, has put the British media in full attack mode, and they are focusing heavily on the angle of…leaning on the sponsors.

The media is heavily pushing the idea that continued association with FIFA is becoming toxic to the brands. Of course by doing that, they are trying to bed in that perception with the people who really drive football, the fans who hand over the money at the bottom of the pile.

Funnily enough, I heard one commentator say “no-one is suggesting that people would stop drinking Coke, for example, while they remain as a headline FIFA sponsor.”

Oh yeah?

I’m suggesting it! I said exactly that to Coke themselves. I can feel a little reminder to them in the pipeline, telling them that my 6 month (and counting) withdrawal of custom was no doubt being welcomed at Pepsi, maybe asking them how they felt their association with FIFA was working out?

At the moment, miniscule pin pricks like myself do not outweigh the massive benefits companies like Coke get from sponsoring the World Cup. If more of us join in though, if the trickle becomes a stream, then a river, then a flood, then the benefits might start to be outweighed by the negatives.

Combine that with a pincer movement of European teams threatening to boycott the World Cup, and Blatter’s supporters might fade away quicker than you can shout “FBI!”

In the meantime, my teeth and waistline continue to sigh with relief, and whenever I see an advert for Coke, I simply smile a little smile. As I sip on a glass of Pepsi.

Ok, I’d love to hear what you think, I love the feedback!
‘Til next time,
health & happiness,
P.S. Here’s the link to Gordon Bryan on Huffington Post
P.P.S. I’m soon going to do a webinar showing me opening a new income stream from sport, if you’d like to keep up to date when it happens, connect with me via facebook.com/thegreatgordino

Do leave a comment!

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  • So, whether it’s US Football or World Football (soccer), it seems that the administration is as corrupt as the day is long. Only worried about how they can make their next buck- and, in the US case, at the expense of their employees (the football players).
    Yes, embargo each sponsor. But, make it clear why you are doing so, so others will see the logic and join in. Because 1 person alone won’t change corporate policies- but a group can and should.
    Kudos to you. Oh, and to your teeth!

    • Oh FIFA has been horrendous for a long time, reminiscent of the bad old Olympic Committee days.
      I was very clear with Coke about the reason, and the result, and getting a reply, even if it was a copy and paste PR line, meant thathad noted it.
      Since then they have signed up to a call from sponsors into an independent look at FIFA governance, and unless that happens, you areright that a group of consumers big enough can make the whole thing too toxic to stick with, and the whole money tower collapses!
      cheers, Gordon

  • I totally agree with your stand, and hereby vow not to drink Coke either – for exactly this reason.

    The really crazy thing is that in any other organisation accused of this level of corruption, the man at the top would be removed while they investigate this – due to the fact that if he was involved, he is likely to spend his last few months in post covering his tracks …

    • I think both the FBI and Swiss authorities have raided his offices – doubt he’d left much anyway, it’s not as if he didn’t know it would happen eventually!
      I think the key point was to actually contact Coke and tell them specifically why, and that their continued sponsorship was directly responsible for sending my money to a competitor!
      Thanks for stopping by as ever!
      cheers, Gordon

  • Great article. I actually do wonder if there is any ‘body’ that is not corrupt these days.
    From Governments to sports governors and all ports in between!
    They are in privileged positions and get all the perks that are going but that is still not enough for them. It is just pure greed – me, me, me – money, money, money.
    I can’t be bothered with any of them and I don’t drink Coke.
    Unfortunately, not enough people will stop drinking coke to make any real impact but good luck with your stand.

    • Hi Annette,
      It’s a shame that corruption doesn’t surprise people, but I look to the positives, that it’s also no surprise that other people choose to doggedly uncover corruption 😉
      You may be right about the numbers, but the fact my message was received by them does have an impact, because if they happen to see dip in sales, they will wonder for everyone that makes the effort to write and tell us, how many others still have the damage to the brand mentally? That’s what branding is all about anyway, and it’s interesting that Coke have now signed up to an independent look at FIFA’s practices.
      Cheers, Gordon

  • Come on Gordon. Coke Pepsi they are still soft (quote unhealthy) drink!! Just a feel good factor that you have beaten ‘the one’ by merely switching to the other one??!! Anyway, at least that’s a good feel good factor to know we have the capability to kick our die hard habit.

    Corrupt or not, it happens to so many places around. Will there come a day when we have truly world peace??

    Look forward to your next piece. Cut down the sugar water! ;p

    • Hi Sandy,
      Ha! Oh yes, I cut down a long time ago, it’s just that now the little I do drink is *not* Coke!
      Corruption has always been a problem, always will be I’m afraid, as the hunter gatherer nature of humans turns into greed when they can get away with it, as someone people do for years!
      Cheers, Gordon

  • Hi Gordon,

    President Sepp Blatter will wiggle his way out of it. Sounds like Michael Garcia resigned because of the corruption of FIFA. God it’s so blatant. I hope he gets caught red handed.

    The FBI and Swiss Prosecutors don’t just do dawn raids on companies without probable cause and 14 men were arrested for bribery and corruption, that says a lot.

    So Coke is out and Pepsi is in, good for you Gordon.

    You have an awesome weekend!


    • Hi Linda,
      What’s happened with FIFA, and it’s the same with athletics as well, is that it’s normally the threat of a long jail term, normally for lying under oath, that makes people reveal all about others, then the whole deck comes crashing down. Seems this is the best way to make the breakthroughs!
      cheers, Gordon